Bruno Paillard, the chairman of Champagne's appellation and communication committee, has launched an attack on some of the biggest names in US wine.

In an interview with, Paillard railed against the continued use of the word Champagne to describe US sparkling wines.

"Large companies are legally misleading the consumer by using a word that is not a real thing, but are protected by local laws," he said. "We have to change that. Not just to defend our interests, but also the defence of truth."

Champagne's regional wine body, the CIVC, has been lobbying for a change in the law in the US since 1983, but Paillard has stepped up the campaign since taking charge two years ago, making it a top priority.

Last year, the Champenois ran a high-profile advertising campaign across the US featuring a giant question mark, to indicate confusion over a product's origin, while in February 2004 talks took place between EU commissioners and the US trade representative Bob Zoelleck.

Paillard said: "Whoever is the next president, this policy will be pursued for many years until we win and I'm pretty sure that we will win."